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Coping with Holiday Stress after a disaster

Release date: 
November 22, 2016
Release Number: 
DR-4280-4283-FL NR 011


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The holiday season can be a stressful time. For individuals and families looking to rebuild from recent disasters, the approaching holiday may be especially difficult.

Taking care of yourself and staying in touch with your family and friends during the holidays is an important part of maintaining your physical and mental health as you continue to recover from the Florida hurricanes.

Some signs of disaster-related stress may include:

• Feeling sad during a holiday season when you are seeking a new home or dealing with memories of a lost loved one.
• Feeling lonely, especially when holiday activities are reminders of happier times with those who will be missing from this year’s festivities.
• Feeling physically and mentally drained.
• Having difficulty making decisions or concentrating on tasks at hand.
• Experiencing changes in appetite or sleep patterns.
• Increasing alcohol or substance abuse.
Establishing a comfortable routine is helpful, but takes time. Here are some actions to undertake:
• Ensure that you have a safe place to stay.
• Maintain a balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Too much holiday "cheer" can increase your stress.
• Get adequate sleep and rest.
• Stay positive. Remind yourself of how you have dealt successfully with difficulties in the past.
• If you have children, be patient and give them extra time and affection.
• Take each day one day at a time. Live in the present without burdening yourself with the things that you need to do in a week or a month.

Ways to ease stress include:

• Talk with someone about your feelings of anger, sorrow or other emotions, even though it may be difficult.
• Seek help from professional counselors who deal with post-disaster stress.
• Do not hold yourself responsible for the disastrous event.
• Use existing support groups of family, friends and religious institutions.
• Honor your holiday traditions, but be flexible and prepare for new activities.

Help can be found by visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline website at http://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/contact-us, or by calling 1-800-985-5990 (press 2 for Spanish). The national hotline is dedicated to providing year-round immediate crisis counseling for individuals experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. You can also Text "TalkWithUs" to 66746 (Spanish speakers, text Hablanos to 66746) to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

For more information on Florida’s disaster recovery, visit fema.gov/disaster/4280, fema.gov/disaster/4283, twitter.com/femaregion4, facebook.com/FEMA, and fema.gov/blog, floridadisaster.org or #FLRecovers. For imagery, video, graphics and releases, see fema.gov/Hurricane-Matthew.


FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711/VRS - Video Relay Service) (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual operators are available (press 2 for Spanish

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:01